Letter: Town failing to develop local economy

EastBayRI.com ·

An economic adviser to former President Ronald Reagan, Milton Friedman, is quoted as saying, “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand,” and “One of the greatest mistakes is to judge (government) policies and programs by their intention rather than their results.”

More than two years ago, a well-developed Bristol Comprehensive Plan (see page 105), a recommendation from the Bristol Economic Development Commission, plus many other Bristolians, strongly advised the Town Council to create and Economic Development Officer position within town government. At the time, more than 25 cities and towns had done so, with the realization that fostering a welcoming environment for businesses and job creation is critical to the citizenry. The council did not heed that advice and instead hired an economic development coordinator.

Fast forward to last week’s Neighbors Emergency Center;s decision to close its West Warwick location, and that it has scrapped plans to open a center in Bristol, along with 30-40 jobs. Rhode Island Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, in April 2016, approved both. Its CEO, Dr. Setul Patel, of Houston, Texas, said, “Rhode Island has proved to be the most difficult state to do business that I have seen.” The decision by Neighbors to expand in Bristol is keeping with the long-held belief that Bristol is the business hub of the East Bay.

My questions, therefor, are: Did Bristol’s economic development coordinator accomplish everything possible to assist Neighbors with their expansion plans to Bristol? Was she aware of the situation? Why wasn’t the EDC informed? Could an economic development officer have successfully closed the deal?

Putting our town government in charge of job creation is fulfilling Mr. Friedman’s wisdom: Poor results and a shortage of jobs.

Patrick M. McCarthy
4 Maple Shade Court